A bipartisan effort spearheaded by state Rep. Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, would grant criminal immunity to individuals who break a car window to help a distressed animal if they feel the situation is dire.
House Bill 6298, sponsored by LaFave, looks to address a growing problem of pets being left in vehicles for a time period that can result in death. In June, a Detroit Police dog was locked inside of a K-9 unit SUV that did not have a properly functioning emergency heat system. The dog passed away the following day.
“Our summers in Michigan are hot and there are dozens of examples each year of pets being left in motor vehicles without air conditioning or open windows,” LaFave said. “The temperature inside vehicles builds very quickly and it’s a death trap for an animal. This will help save pets’ lives.”
Under LaFave’s plan, individuals who see an animal in danger inside a vehicle would be allowed to intervene, but they must make sure there is no other reasonable exit available – such as an unlocked door. They would also be required to contact local law enforcement immediately before or after breaking the window, remain in the area until first responders arrive and provide notification to the vehicle owner.
“There are checks and balances in place within this proposal to make sure people aren’t going off bashing in windows and damaging property on a whim when they see a dog in a car,” LaFave said. “If, for example, a dog is lying in a hot vehicle not breathing, breathing shallowly or not moving, no one is around, the temperature is up there, the police have been called and time is going by while they respond to the situation, it would be deemed reasonable to act on behalf of the animal’s safety.
“We need to scale back the possibility that a concerned person might leave an animal to suffer and die in a hot car because they are afraid of getting arrested.”
House Bill 6298 has been referred to the House Law and Justice Committee for consideration.